Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Once Around - And Back Again

Hunter at the Daily Kos links to an in-depth analysis of Republican tax cuts for the rich and the abandonment of infrastructure maintenance for the rest of us. The piece in In These Times chronicles the impact of each tax cut for the rich and corporations in the context of critical public projects being starved.

"Year after year, the Bush administration insisted on massive tax cuts for the wealthy. And year after year, the White House refused to provide the funding government experts said was needed to strengthen levees, beef up hurricane preparedness and get federal emergency response ready for an onslaught from Mother Nature. America’s budget surplus, built in the ’90s to serve as a rainy day fund, was robbed to provide more and more giveaways to the rich. When the rainiest day of them all came, our country was left totally—and unnecessarily—vulnerable."

A must read. The Republican playbook for drowning some of the most critical functions of government in the Katrina bathtub.

By now lots of bloggers have linked to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle that details the events surrounding Pat Tillman's death, the ensuing cover-up by the military and the shameless exploitation of Tillman by the Pentagon and the Bush Administration.

"A Chronicle review of more than 2,000 pages of testimony, as well as interviews with Pat Tillman’s family members and soldiers who served with him, found contradictions, inaccuracies and what appears to be the military’s attempt at self-protection."

Pat Tillman's family deserves to know what happened to Pat. And, we all deserve to know if the Bush Administration used Pat Tillman's death for propaganda purposes.

Monday, September 26, 2005

"Kiss my _ _ _!" Congressman Don Young

Alaska's Congressman Don Young has been winning a lot of accolades lately. Conservatives from the Wall Street Journal to Michele Malkin have been critical of the $500 million in pork barrel spending that Young loaded into the recent transportation bill. This money will go to build two Alaskan bridges that will serve no purpose. There is no one who is remotely connected with the communities involved or the government in general who doesn't see Young's bridges as plan pork for some big construction companies.

When asked if he would reconsider the half billion dollars and try and use that money the rebuild the Gulf Coast, Young's answer was "kiss my ear (ass)."

"They can kiss my ear!" Young boomed when Sam Bishop, Washington correspondent for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, asked him about the many pleas to redirect the bridge money.

"That is the dumbest thing I've ever heard," Young went on, noting that Louisiana did quite well in his highway bill.

And, the congressman said, he helped the seafood industry donate more than $500,000 for hurricane victims. (That was at the "Seafood Invitational," a charity golf tournament Sept. 9 in Roslyn, Wash., Bishop reported Friday.)

"I raised enough money to give back to them voluntarily," he said, "and that's it!"

What a guy. But wait, there's more from Representative Young.

Faced with the massive aid bill for Hurricane Katrina, Young added a few interesting amendments. One would make it more difficult to build a wind energy facility in Nantucket Sound. Another give the Coast Guard $400,000 to "carry out an assessment of and planning for an Arctic Sea Route on the indigenous people of Alaska." And, a third would require that the Coast Guard homeport the cutter, Healy, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Not in the same class as half a billion in pork, but from the same sleazy and corrupt source.

Tragic Failure of Leadership

When the American military is discovered trading photos of dead Iraqis and Afghans for pornography and the leadership of the military just shrugs, you realize how badly screwed up our country has become.

When the image of a dead Iraqi shopkeeper can become the punch line for a photo that allows its sender free access to amateur porn, we have given up any claim to the moral high ground.

Think what is going to happen when these images end up being broadcast to the Moslem world.

Who is going to be held accountable?

From AmericaBlog and here and here. And, here from one of the sites that broke the story.

"For almost a year, American soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been taking photographs of dead bodies, many of them horribly mutilated or blown to pieces, and sending them to Web site administrator Chris Wilson. In return for letting him post these images, Wilson gives the soldiers free access to his site. American soldiers have been using the pictures of disfigured Iraqi corpses as currency to buy pornography."

I'll ask again - who is going to be held accountable?

(photos East Bay Express)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Dirty Dozen (+1)

With so many to choose from and so much corruption, how can anyone come up with just a dozen? Well, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has given it a try and even they had to go with a baker's dozen.

Tomorrow, CREW will release its list of "the 13 most corrupt members of Congress." CREW's list is mostly dedicated to more recent incidents of corrupt behavior and they leave off their nemesis, Tom Delay for reasons not made clear in their pre-announcement to the media.

The LA Times gives us a look at CREW's Dirty Dozen (+1).

"• Sen. Bill Frist: The report accuses him of violating federal campaign finance laws in how he disclosed a campaign loan. It also calls for an inquiry over his recent sale of stock in HCA Inc., his family's hospital corporation. The sale has raised questions about possible insider dealing. Frist aides confirmed Friday that the SEC was investigating. They have denied claims of campaign finance violations.

Rep. Roy Blunt: The report criticizes him for trying to insert provisions into bills that would have benefited, in one case, a client of his lobbyist son and in another case, the employer of his lobbyist girlfriend, now his wife.

Sen. Conrad Burns: The report says that questions arose over $3 million in appropriations he earmarked for an Indian tribe in Michigan that was a client of lobbyist Abramoff. The senator received substantial campaign contributions from Abramoff and various clients.

Rep. Bob Ney: The report says the chairman of the House Administration Committee went on a golf outing to Scotland in 2002, arranged by Abramoff, at a time when the congressman was trying to insert a provision into legislation to benefit one of Abramoff's tribal clients.

Ney reported to the House that the trip was paid for entirely by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, which denied paying any of the costs. Ney has said he had been duped by Abramoff.

Rep. Tom Feeney: The report says he incorrectly reported that a golf trip to Scotland with Abramoff in 2003 was paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which denied it. A Feeney aide said the congressman had been misled. Questions also have arisen about two other privately funded trips.

Rep. Richard W. Pombo: He paid his wife and brother $357,325 in campaign funds in the last four years, the report says. He also supported the wind-power industry before the Department of Interior without disclosing that his parents received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from wind-power turbines on their ranch.

Rep. Maxine Waters: The report cites a December 2004 Los Angeles Times investigation disclosing how members of the congresswoman's family have made more than $1 million in the last eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that Waters has helped. Before publication of the Times investigation last year, Waters declined to be interviewed, but said of her family members: "They do their business, and I do mine."

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.): The report says he encountered controversy over disclosures that Pennsylvania taxpayers paid for his children's schooling while they lived in Virginia. Santorum maintained he did nothing wrong, and has pulled his children out of the school, according to reports.

Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and William J. Jefferson: Both congressional veterans are under federal investigation.

Cunningham, who has announced that he will not run for reelection, faces questions over his dealings with a defense contractor who allegedly overpaid him when he purchased Cunningham's house. Jefferson is under scrutiny for his role in an overseas business deal. Normally the House ethics committee does not hold inquiries while criminal investigations are underway.

Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.): The report says that questions have been raised about his private business interests, including a savings and loan in Asheville, N.C., and personal business interests in Russia.

Rep. Marilyn N. Musgrave (R-Colo.) and Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.): Both second-term House members encountered criticisms tied to campaign activities, the report says.

Musgrave was accused of misusing her congressional office for campaign purposes. Renzi was accused of financing portions of his 2002 campaign with improper loans."

Eleven Republicans and two Democrats. If the leadership of the Democratic Party had any courage or integrity, an Ethics Complaint would be filed by a Democrat to initiate investigations of Waters and Jefferson, immediately. You can't complain about the "Republican Culture of Corruption" and ignore potential corruption from your own party.

Wouldn't evidence of Democrats raising the bar for Democrats have more impact on the public's perception of Congress than all the whining about corruption in the other party?

The American people deserve better and if the Democrats won't give them a reason to vote for them, they will stick with the crooks they know. Why can't the leadership of the Democratic Party figure this out?

Word of the Day - Corruption

Pronunciation: k&-'r&p-sh&n
Function: noun
1 a : impairment of integrity, virtue, or moral principle : DEPRAVITY b : DECAY, DECOMPOSITION c : inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (as bribery) d : a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct
2 archaic : an agency or influence that corrupts
3 chiefly dialect : PUS
political : a defining characteristic of elected or appointed leaders when they forget for whom they are working

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Once Around - With Feeling

According to the New York Times, via AmericaBlog, President Bush cancelled his photo op in Texas on Friday because the weather in San Antonio was just to damn nice and sunny. Apparently, the White House spinners were concerned that photos of Bush and sunny skies would not convey the storm fighting commando image they are trying to develop for President Run Away.

"Another White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm."

Maybe a guitar and cake would have provided a better visual.

River at Baghdad Burning is back at her blog. She has two lengthy posts whereby she dissects her country's "puppet constitution". It is good to remember that Americans are dying so that Bush can point to this piece of toilet paper and claim that it was worth the sacrifice. For example:

"Chapter 5: Authorities of the Regions is troubling. I have no problem with the concept of federalism. We’ve been accustomed to an autonomous Kurdistan for decades. The current laws about federalism and regional policies in the draft constitution might better be titled the “Roadmap to Divide Iraq”.

I don't know if Iraq is relevant any more, now that we have President Hurricane Hunter in charge, but our children (and Iraqi children) are still dying over there.

Democratic Veteran suggests that it might be time for more Democratic politicians to start criticizing Karl Rove. After all Rove has an official position in the United States government and he has been assigned to coordinate Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts, etc. When he flies off to North Dakota to do political fund raising, don't you think it would be worthwhile for more than one Democrat to raise his/her voice?

"Why is the Roveulator out in North Dakota doing fundraising? And why, since he's a paid, full-time employee of the US Government, is he doing it on the Taxpayers Dime? He's got a job to do now that has nothing to do with fund-raising...in fact it's closer to Barn-Raising."

It's time to start turning the eyes of the Nation onto the ize of Rove, and rip away the facade of competence that has been imbued by the Poodle Media and their apologists everywhere."

Why is the Democratic Party so full of spineless gasbags and timid old hacks?

As always The Heretik shows us although "words have power", a picture....well that's priceless:


James Walcott leads us to a great column by Denis Hamill. Hamill tells us what he thinks of the famous "bullhorn moment" in the WTC rubble.

"It will go down as one of the worst moments in American history because when he stood on the smoldering ruins amid the dust of the dead it was through that bullhorn that Bush's Big Lie was first shouted to the world that the people who knocked down those buildings would soon be hearing from us."

Within a few months, Bush had forgotten completely about the "people who knocked down" the WTC and was deep in planning to invade Iraq. His bullhorn moment really a bullshit moment.

At the Left Coaster, Steve Soto has a great post about Laura Bush taking away George's mojo.

"Hell, the press is making Bush out to be a cartoon character who needs to go to a military base to regain his image, while top Republicans are openly blaming Laura Bush for neutering her husband. To top it off, and as we have been saying for awhile now, this same top Republican says that team around Bush was never really that good to begin with; they only appeared good because the Democrats were so worthless.

And now it's happened. It must be fun around the house now, with a top Republican saying openly that Laura's got Bush's balls in her pocket. If Skippy wasn't drinking before, he is now."

Hopefully, we can keep him from starting another war to get the mojo back.

Orcinus has an "Art Bell" moment and tells us about wacko weatherman Scott Stevens.

[via the Idaho Falls Post Register] "He believes the Japanese mafia created Katrina as revenge for Hiroshima. The Japanese group is one of several, Stevens says, that likely possess the required technology: an electromagnetic generator developed in 1976 in Russia. He predicts the gangsters, Japan's Yakuza, intend to destroy another U.S. city within the year, probably by unleashing an earthquake or volcanic eruption in the West. "

Stevens quit his job at a real television station and is out promoting his theory (and probably a book, soon) full time. If you are a right wing wacko, the is no theory that is too outrageous to promote of get published. OK, the theory of evolution doesn't count.

MicroMayheM comes back from a long break to tell us Californians that we have been sentenced to "Seven Weeks of Governator Spin".

“This is California politics. Republican Governors (Schwarzenegger, Wilson, Reagan, etc...) have used the initiative process to circumvent how California makes laws. The current Governor is being co-oped by big business, corporate interest, and extreme Republican ideologies. To push an anti-union agenda that is unacceptable in the state legislature. The Governor is not supposed to create law as a king or monarch would. It is the responsibility of the Governor to enforce and promote the rule of law.”

And, I thought all we had to worry about was an earthquake.

Duke and Kontogiannis

The San Diego Union Tribune has more on the connection between Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham and shadowy New York and Greek based businessman, Thomas Kontogiannis. It seems that beside grossly overpaying Cunningham for his boat and setting Duke up with an unending line of credit through his daughter's mortgage company, Kontogiannis also held Duke's hand on a trip to Saudi Arabia paid for by wealthy Southern California land developer, Ziyad Abduljawad (who was connected to Duke in June by TPM).

According to the UT:

"In a previously undisclosed link between Cunningham and Kontogiannis, the developer accompanied the congressman to Saudi Arabia last year. A Saudi-American businessman flew Cunningham to Saudi Arabia twice last year aboard a private jet. On the second trip, the jet stopped in Athens to pick up Kontogiannis, a native of Greece with businesses interests in several countries.

Ziyad Abduljawad, founder and chairman of San Diego-based PLC Land Co., paid for Cunningham's two trips to Saudi Arabia, each at a cost of more than $10,000. Cunningham has described Abduljawad as an acquaintance who shares his interest in improving U.S.-Saudi relations.

Kontogiannis "went as a friend of Duke's," said Harmony Allen, Cunningham's chief of staff. "That's the extent of it. Duke asked him to go as a friend. I'm not sure if (Kontogiannis) had a special interest (in visiting) Saudi Arabia or not."

It was unclear who paid for Kontogiannis' trip."

I think what is more unclear right now is what was going on between Duke and Kontogiannis? What kinds of support could Duke lend to this businessman? How much business value did Kontogiannis gain in Saudi through his close relationship to Cunningham?

Why is this crook still pretending to represent me in Congress?

Don't Lock Your Doors

If you have every done business with Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, I have a bit of advice for you: Don't lock your doors. The feds will just kick them in.

Thursday, federal agents (FBI, IRS, DCIS) raided the home and offices of another of Duke's "business partners", Thomas Kontogiannis. If you have your scandal scorecard handy you will see that Kontogiannis is the guy who bought Cunningham's yacht, the Kelly C, for a price that was perhaps as much as three times the value of the boat. Ultimately, half a million of that money went to pay off a loan, arranged by Kontogiannis through a family mortgage business, for Cunningham's Rancho Santa Fe mansion. Yes, the same mansion upon which the Feds have placed a lien contending that it was purchased in part with the proceeds from a $700,000 bribe paid Cunningham by another businessman, whose home and office were raided in July 1st.

Of all of the Duke's financial adventures, his relationship with Kontogiannis is the most unusual. After all, both MZM and ADCS (and their owners Mitchell Wade and Brent Wilkes), previously raided by agents investigating Cunningham, had business before one of Cunningham's committees. Yet, Duke's involvement with Kontogiannis doesn't appear to fit that pattern. According to the North County Times:

"In 2000, Kontogiannis was under investigation for bribery involving school computer contracts for a New York school district, according to news reports.

Cunningham wrote a letter to the Queens, N.Y., district attorney suggesting that Kontogiannis might be the victim of a political vendetta, according to news reports. Kontogiannis was later indicted and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of defrauding in the second degree and agreed to pay a $5 million settlement in the case, according to a July story published in the Washington Post.

Around the same time, Kontogiannis sought Cunningham's advice on seeking a pardon from President George W. Bush, Kontogiannis told reporters in July. He said that Cunningham then steered him to a Washington law firm that he could talk to about the matter.

Since that time, business dealings between the two men included the New York man's purchase of a 65-foot boat owned by Cunningham and three real estate loans that Cunningham received from a company connected to Kontogiannis.

On July 9, Kontogiannis said that in 2002 he purchased Cunningham's 65-foot flat-bottomed boat, the "Kelly C" for $627,000. A San Diego yacht broker recently said he believed the boat was probably not worth more than $200,000."

The primary thing that Cunningham's relationship with Kontogiannis has in common with his other dealings is that, in every case, Cunningham made large sums of money.

I'll ask the same question I always ask at the end of a Cunningham post: Why is this man still in the Congress of the United States?

Your Not Blind

"Please Speak Louder,
I'm Blind"

Senator Bill Frist, and the United States Senate in general, apparently have a different definition of a blind trust than the rest of us and the financial management world.

Here is Investopedia definition of a "blind trust":

"A trust in which the executors have full discretion over the assets, and the trust beneficiaries have no knowledge of the holdings of the trust. " (emphasis added)

So when we learn, from the AP, that
Frist has been consistently apprised of the nature and size of at least the HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) assets in his "blind trust", then we must assume that his trust really has something like 20:200 vision. Not so much a blind trust as a "correctable" one.

When we also learn that Frist has consistantly lied about the extent of his knowledge about the HCA holdings in his "trust" we have to assume that the only people Frist was trying to keep in the dark relative to his trust, were the American people.

"Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show.

The updates included stock transactions involving HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by Frist's family."

The real meaning of a "blind trust" to Bill Frist is one that keeps others in the dark as to the unethical behavior of the Senator.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Cockroaches Caught in the Light

Senator Bill Frist's hugely advantageous sale of stock from his "blind trust" has generated lots of interest. See here and here.

Evidence of the web of connections and influence peddling between Jack Abramoff and Karl Rove continues to grow. TPM has extensive coverage as the light gets shined into dark corners in the White House.

The most disgusting part of all these revelations is the pervasive and perverse epidemic of corruption that is coming to light. It's not just Delay, Ney, Cunningham, etc. It is the Senate Majority Leader. It is the most influential senior aide to the President of the United States.

Just a note - CNN reported last night that resigned FEMA Director, Michael Brown is still drawing a check from the agency. Wouldn't we have been better off, if we had just paid Brown not to come to work and promoted a professional from within to run the thing. That way, at least, the Bush patronage game wouldn't have cost so many lives.

Internets Failing....Send Al Gore

Several members of the management team of my Internet service supplier have been convicted of various crimes. Could that be the reason my service has been down for the last 12 hours.

That's my excuse for the lack of posts. Beyond that I will have to take the 5th.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rita May Wash Up US Economy

The company I work for is scrambling to recover from "hyperinflation" in the first half of this year in the cost of chemicals and plastics derived from petroleum. To achieve that recovery, the corporate strategy was to squeeze other suppliers, extend payment terms and put an almost complete clamp on discretionary spending.

Two hurricanes are going to wash that strategy away. The Katrina effect - a 50% jump in gasoline costs and a 100% jump in natural gas costs will swamp each and every one of my company's cost cutting measures. Hurricane Rita may drive the cost of gasoline up by as much as another dollar a gallon and make natural gas heating and energy production cost prohibitive. If you are looking for a stock buy, look to textiles and woolen goods. There is going to be a run on sweaters and blankets this winter.

According to Reuters, oil executives see the potential for Rita to be a major disaster. A disaster that will have a larger economic effect that Katrina's destruction of an entire city.

"Valero Energy Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Bill Greehey said Hurricane Rita's impact on U.S. crude oil production and refining could be a "national disaster."

"If it hits the refineries, and we're short refining capacity, you're going to see gasoline prices well over $3.00 a gallon at the pump," Greehey said in a Tuesday night interview.

"It's going to be coming across the (U.S.) Gulf (of Mexico)," Greehey said. "There's a lot of oil platforms, oil rigs, (natural) gas platforms, gas rigs. It could have a significant impact on supply and prices, and then, depending on what it does to the refineries, there are still four refineries that are shut down. So this really is a national disaster."

Refineries in Houston and Texas City process 2.3 million barrels of crude oil or 13.5 percent of daily U.S. refining capacity. The Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, refineries account for another 1.1 million barrels in refining capacity."

Still a two and a half month to go in hurricane season.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Once Around - Black and White Version

DC Media Girl has the best take on George Bush's newest unqualified appointment to a critical government position. She first takes us to the Washington Post for this recap of Julie Meyers credentials.

"The Bush administration is seeking to appoint a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues, prompting sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates and homeland security experts.

The push to appoint Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, comes in the midst of intense debate over the qualifications of department political appointees involved in the sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina."

DC Media Girl then cuts to the chase:

"To put it bluntly, whoever put her name forward for this position is insane. The immigration service is not only a critical one, it’s also the area of Homeland Security that affects real people on a day-to-day basis. A 36-year old who has no background in immigration law, which is complicated and arcane, need not apply, not even one with a big shot uncle and a direct connection to the DHS chief."

The rule in this Administration is simple - everyone must be a clueless and unqualified for their position as the president himself.

Democratic Veteran takes us to this amazing tale of FEMA on ice via the Gloucester Daily Times (MA).

"Hundreds of truck drivers from Minnesota, Alabama, Georgia and even Massachusetts have been crisscrossing the country since the beginning of September, moving loads of ice from storage facility to storage facility and earning big bucks from the federal government to do little more than sit in their cabs and not unload their precious cargo.

Truck driver Paul Kite said he never would have agreed to pick up the ice had he known it was a job for FEMA, because government orders on shipments often change, he said.

"Once you pick up a load from FEMA, you're stuck," he said. "We've done jobs for FEMA before, but never to this extent where you sit and sit and sit. I just drove 1,300 miles to dump ice in Gloucester. This has to be the stupidest thing I have ever done."

Kite and his wife, Sharon, picked up their load of ice in Newburgh, N.Y., Sept. 2 and planned to make their delivery in Carthage, Miss., later that week.

When they arrived in Carthage, 60 other trucks were ahead of them waiting to unload. All of those trucks were told to bring their loads to Maxwell Air Force Base, which is 750 miles away, Kite said.

"It cost them $90,000 to move that ice 750 miles," he said.

A frustrated Kite — only 200 miles from cities that he said were on television nightly pleading for help — offered to pay $1,500 for his load of ice so that he could drive it down to the Gulf Coast himself, he said. The offer was refused by FEMA, he said.

Three weeks later, Kite's truck is still carrying the same load of ice."

Five years, billions of dollars and the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA are sparing no expense to move ice as far away from the people who need it as possible.

The Heretik covers the lastest DOJ assault on pornography from a number of novel positions and quotes a Washington Post article with the provocative title of "Recruits Sought for Porn Squad."

"Popular acceptance of hard-core pornography has come a long way, with some of its stars becoming mainstream celebrities and their products -- once confined to seedy shops and theaters -- being "purveyed" by upscale hotels and most home cable and satellite television systems. Explicit sexual entertainment is a profit center for companies including General Motors Corp. and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (the two major owners of DirecTV), Time Warner Inc. and the Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt hotel chains.

But Gonzales endorses the rationale of predecessor Meese: that adult pornography is a threat to families and children. Christian conservatives, long skeptical of Gonzales, greeted the pornography initiative with what the Family Research Council called "a growing sense of confidence in our new attorney general."

I can see the headline now - "NASCAR Dads Revolt Over Playboy Channel Ban."

Quote of the day:

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." Douglas Adams

Democracy for America

Help Democrat Francine Busby in her campaign to represent the people of California's 50th Congressional District. Busby is actively running for the seat currently held by Republican Corruption Poster Boy Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Duke is resigning at the end of this term to focus on staying out of jail and Busby is in a great position in this traditionally Republican district.

CA-50 covers much of North San Diego County. The district is moderate and polls show that when voters hear Busby's message they respond positively.

There are about a dozen potential Republican challengers for this seat. So far the key announced challengers include Howard Kaloogian of Move American Forward fame and Bill Morrow, who recently held an anti-immigration rally featuring Representative Tom Tancredo and Minuteman Project Founder, Jim Gilchrist.

Busby needs your help. She is a finalist for funding by the Democracy for America project.

Please use the following link and vote for Busby. If Busby wins this competition for Democracy for America funds, she will be able to increase her campaign activity and improve her name recognition in the district well in advance of next year's election.

With your support, Francine can hang Duke Cunningham around the neck of her Republican challengers and beat back hate mongering fanatics like Kaloogian and Morrow.

This race is a one of the great opportunities for Democrats in the 2006 election.

Monday, September 19, 2005

We Can All Make A Difference

Allison in Seattle has posted this several places. I'm going to print the whole thing and give you the links to a couple of sites. Make a comment.... NO, make a difference.

What did you do this week, to Make the World a Better Place?

And I mean that in the most empowering way possible. I know you did *something*. You:

--gave up one driving trip,
--gave money to Hurricane Relief,
--volunteered at a shelter,
--helped a senior neighbor,
--conserved water,
--smiled at everyone you met....

If Dems are roughly 50% of the people in this country, think of the power we have to change the setting we live in! When I first thought of this diary, the reality of that smacked me in the head.

What if, for instance, 50% of the population drives 10% less? What if I make the sacrifice (!) to start going to Costco in my neighbors' van on their Saturday morning ritual? What if?

Let's close out the week with this. Not what our problems are (geez we read about that everywhere) let's discuss what we're accomplishing. If we list everyone's small contributions, the individual efforts will appear for what they are -- part of a mighty stream of positive action.

I'll lead off below. Please, take a chance, join in.

Come on, folks, let's uplift and empower each other. If 10 or 100 of us post here about what we DID do to -- literally -- make our world a better place, we'll feel a ray of hope.

A justified ray of hope.

You can add you actions to Allison's list at My Left Wing or Daily Kos.

Can 50 million people make a difference?

Once Around - In Living Color

Majikthise links us to an interview with the mayor of Gretna, Louisiana via Help Chalk.

"The wrath of God struck New Orleans, and it spared us. We were hurt, but we did not see the wrath of God."

J. Miller Rampant leads us to this in the Huffington Post.

"The evidence of the administration’s folly is iron clad. As NBC reported back in March of 2004 military planners had drawn up plans to take out Zarqawi at least three separate times before the start of the war but Condoleezza Rice and the National Security Council consistently vetoed that action. Now I know Ms. Rice a bit. She was one of my advisors on a college panel I was on at Stanford. I found her charming and understanding. Yet her blindness to Al Qaeda’s plans to hijack an airliner despite bold-type warnings in her briefings, and then her and her administration’s actually scrapping plans to take out Zarqawi when they could amount to lethal blunders (or worse) of historic proportion."

The Bush Administration could be the most evil and underhanded in American history, OR they could just be the most incompetent.

At the Pen and Sword, Commander Huber has the neocons list of ten bad reasons to stay the course in Iraq. Here's a sample:

"5. We need to support our troops.

I applaud and deeply respect our men and women in uniform for their magnificent service and sacrifice. These are my people, remember? However, comma...

In the first place, we are supporting our troops--to the tune of nearly half a trillion dollars a year.

Second, when we continue to commit those men and women in uniform to a struggle for which there is no military solution, we are abusing them, not supporting them.

Third--and most importantly--America does not exist for the purpose of supporting its military. Our military exists to support America. And if it's not defending us at home or achieving our national aims overseas, it's not supporting our country."

It can't possibly be good for Tom Delay, George Bush or the Republican Party that David Hossein Safavian, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at the Office of Management and Budget and former Chief of Staff at the General Services Administration, was arrested today on a based on a "three- count criminal complaint filed at federal court in Washington, D.C. The complaint charges Safavian with making false statements to a GSA ethics officer and the GSA-OIG, along with obstruction of a GSA-OIG investigation."

"The affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint alleges that from May 16, 2002 until January 10, 2004, Safavian served as Chief of Staff at the GSA. During that time he allegedly aided a Washington D.C. lobbyist in the lobbyist's attempts to acquire GSA-controlled property in and around Washington, D.C. In August 2002, this lobbyist allegedly took Safavian and others on a golf trip to Scotland."

The lobbyist in question? Jack Abramoff, perhaps. Other members of the foursome include, Congressman Tom Delay. Read the fine print at TPM.

Democratic Veteran read the blog of someone who listens to AM radio. How quaint. Much the same as the idea that political patronage won't influence rebuilding the Gulf Coast.

"I'm listening to WWL-AM in New Orleans. They have thus far received several calls from local contractors who say that FEMA is not allowing them to help with the recovery effort, that only out-of-state contractors are on the ground. One guy reports that the only way he can get hired as a subcontractor is to give a kickback to the contractor hired by FEMA."

Like global warming, no one could have seen that one coming.

Quote of the day:

"A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy." Benjamin Disraeli

The President of Pork

Over at Newsweek my favorite conservative, Fareed Zakaria, has some choice words for George Bush. In an article titled, "Leaders Who Won't Choose," Zakaria makes it clear that George Bush and the Republican Party have sold this country down the river.

"Bush will go down in history as the most fiscally irresponsible chief executive in American history. Since 2001, government spending has gone up from $1.86 trillion to $2.48 trillion, a 33 percent rise in four years! Defense and Homeland Security are not the only culprits. Domestic spending is actually up 36 percent in the same period."

Bush's complete lack of understanding as to how government works has led him to an astonishing fiscal position:

"...Bush has decided not to choose. He wants guns and butter and tax cuts."

One theory is that Bush is a stubborn leader, who knows he is right and is going to see things through to the end. That's a fucking stupid theory. Bush is a lightweight, non-thinker, who sticks with things because he hasn't the imagination or interest to change them. That and that alone is the reason he didn't return from vacation while Katrina battered the Gulf Coast. He already had an agenda and he didn't know how to change it.

Bush doesn't give a crap about America or Americans. He is the President of Pork. The King of Entitlement. He is the perfect symbol of the Republican Party. Corrupt and cynical. In it for the money and power. And, power leads to more money. That's their economic theory.

"Today's Republicans believe in pork, but they don't believe in government. So we have the largest government in history but one that is weak and dysfunctional. Public spending is a cynical game of buying votes or campaign contributions, an utterly corrupt process run by lobbyists and special interests with no concern for the national interest."

If you are not a Republican politician feeding from the public trough and you voted for Bush, you are an idiot or a fool.

We Have Lost Our Way

Kid Oakland has a great post up over at K/O. It puts a lot of how I feel into words more eloquent than I can string together.

"It's ad hoc, and has been since 1980. Cakes to Iran. Guns to Honduras. George Schulz and GHW will be long gone by the time the shit really hits the fan. John Kerry knows the truth. So does every congressional Democrat. But most of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, have been phoning it in for decades.

...I love America. I know you do too. You know, to tell the truth, I love people, period. And I love this earth we call home.

And, like you, I know there's a better way. There has to be.

And personally, I think it's high time all of us started working on it...one blank sheet of paper and our ideas.

We've got good ones.

We've gotta be better than this."

We have no national purpose. Why are we here as a nation? Does it matter any more?

What do we aspire to be and what are we willing to do to achieve those aspirations?

The politics of the right are designed to lull us to sleep. They call for nothing from the American people. Our greatest progress as a nation came from sacrifice not complaisance.

There are no politics of the left. Just a bunch of politicians avoiding taking any stand that might be used against them in the future.

I don't want some mystical leader to emerge. I want Americans to step forward and call on the American people to do great things.

I would like to hear someone ask this generation to sacrifice for the next generation, not burden them with debt.

I would like to hear someone propose great works for this nation.

I would like to hear someone propose that we end poverty in this nation.

I would like to hear someone propose that we end hunger in the world.

I would like to hear someone propose that we journey to the stars.

I would like to hear someone propose that we can save our planet and all the variety of creatures that live upon it.

I would like to hear someone propose that we actually learn that the things that divide us are far less than the things we have in common.

AND, I would like them to mean it and ask the rest of us what we are going to do to make it happen.

We need someone to set us free, not tell us what to do and how to think.

Who Needs Them?

California Congressman Richard Pombo (CA-11) began his assault on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) today. Pombo is a Republican who has routinely shown his contempt for anything to do with conservation or the protection of the environment. But, Pombo's helpers in this attack on the ESA are a group of Democrats from districts dominated by agricultural interests.

Congressman Pombo's press release lists the Democrats who are signed up to gut the ESA (see below). If any of these scum gentlemen happen to represent your district drop them a note and tell them to you would like to maintain the ESA.

The Sierra Club has a far more comprehensive picture of Pombo's intent than the good Congressman admits in his presser.

"Congressman Pombo's bill is a plan that would rob American children of the natural heritage that is their birthright. It sets principles of conservation that have been around since Theodore Roosevelt was President on their head and turns back the clock to a time when the loss of healthy fish and wildlife populations was considered a reasonable cost of doing business.

A look at Congressman Pombo's staff analysis shows his draft bill would:

1) Eliminate conservation measures on tens of millions of acres of land around the country, the "critical habitat" of endangered species, and prevent such conservation activities in the future.

2) Repeal established conservation measures that prohibit the killing or injuring of hundreds of threatened species such as the Bald eagle.

3) Require the federal government to pay developers, the oil industry and other special interests to keep them from killing or injuring publicly owned fish and wildlife."

It is hard to take much pride in being a Democrat when you have to share the lable with people like these:

Mr. Dennis Cardoza (CA-18)
Marion Berry (AR-1)
Mr. Mike Ross (AR-4)
Mr. Joe Baca (CA-43)
Mr. Bennie Thompson (MS-2)

Mr. Jim Costa (CA-20)

These guys are supported by big agricultural interests. Any surprise they want to gut environmental policy?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Once Around - In color

Once around - words, words, words.............

Over at Kos, Hunter points out how the "corporate media" has a vested interest in Republican rule.

"Every time I hear talk of a blogger ethics conference, I laugh so hard my stigmata starts acting up. If we want the newsmedia to get back to reporting news -- and I mean actual, politically sensitive news, not breathless on-the-scene reports from whatever stagelit tropical scene White Girl Number 23 has disappeared from this week -- we need to surgically detach the news organizations from the conglomerates that have subsumed them."

The article that set him off is in the LA Weekly.

Shakespeare's Sister and Kid Oakland highlight the Catholic church's movement towards the Middle Ages or Dark Ages, you decide.

“You know, it’s really unbelievable that the Catholic Church continues to insist that gay priests are its biggest problem, even though there are priests who are crazier than shithouse rats doing all sorts of weird and evil crap, like molesting and raping kids and, in a recent bizarre incident in Texas, exposing them to disease…”

"The Bishops are simply buying time in avoiding a wholescale reassessment of the priesthood that is decades overdue. Further, they are pushing a divisive and destructive issue straight through the heart of every American parish in order to help the current Pope push the Church rightward."

Over at Democratic Veteran the question of H5N1 comes up. If you don't know what H5N1 is, please don't clog up the prescription counter of my local drug store looking for Tamiflu when the shit hits the fan.

"And apparently, the 1600 Crew have done nothing to prepare for it. We know its coming, have known for a while it seems, but Flying Spaghetti Monster forbid that the Department of Health and Human Services start working with drug companies to get vaccines out, or preventatives like Tamiflu, which is made by Roche Laboratories in mass quantities."

At the Pen and Sword, Commander Huber refers us to the Washington Post, where we find the raving lunatics of the Republican right calling for spending cuts while vowing to fight to the death to preserve tax cuts for the rich. Some Republicans are advocating more privatization of the Army Corps of Engineers. Those pesky folks who kept asking for money to keep New Orleans safe. Who needs them? Commander Huber asks,

"Hmm. If we take away money from the Army Corps of Engineers, who in the private sector do you reckon we'll pay to fix the levees?"

I know! I know! Call on me..... Halliburton. Right?

Wasn't it just last week that Tom Delay sat back in his big leather "congressman" chair, sucked on a Cuban (cigar...) and declared that the Republicans had pared government back about as far as humanly possible? This article in Time magazine suggests he may have been a wee bit premature.

"As money flows into the Gulf States faster than water is pumped out of New Orleans, it's safe to say the recovery from Hurricane Katrina has entered a new phase: the financial free-for-all. The President was careful not to get specific about what the "generosity of a united country" might cost, but economists estimate that Katrina's final price tag could easily top $200 billion.

With money flowing so freely, nearly every group--from hard-hit farmers to federal contractors--is angling for its piece of the action. The Federal Government is forking over as much as $800 million a day to cover everything from temporary housing and debris removal to generators and bottled water. The next stage of the gold rush should take place near the end of October, when the White House expects to return to Congress for another cash infusion..."

Is there a final word for tonight?

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." Mark Twain

Who Needs Baghdad?

Atrios points out that the Bush Administration is turning to private donors to help with the reconstruction of Iraq. Before you dig out the checkbook, you might want to check out this post from Juan Cole.

If you still want to write a check to help rebuild an Iraqi neighborhood, that's fine with me, but if Professor Cole's friend in Baghdad is correct, you probably should make the check out to either that Zarqawi guy or Muqtada al-Sadr. They are apparently the people in control of Iraq's capital.

"The situation has deteriorated in Baghdad dramatically today. Five neighborhoods (hay) in Baghdad are controlled by insurgents, and they are Amiraya, Ghazilya, Shurta, Yarmouk and Doura. It is very bad. My guys there report that cars have come into these neighborhoods and blocked off the streets. Masked gunmen with AKs and other weapons are roaming these areas, announcing that people should stay home. One of my drivers in Amiraya reports that his neighborhood is shut down totally, and even those who need food or provisions are warned not to go out."

"...More and more of even the most patriotic intelligentsia are departing. The situation is dire, and those with escape valves are using them. [Some organizations are]sending more of [their] staff to Arbil and Sulamaniyah and out of Baghdad. Until about March this year, [some] thought that there was a chance of returning to Baghdad. It is remarkable how incapable this government is. Its only success is that it exists at all."

Yet, over in the Green Zone the illusion persists that Americans are dying for a noble cause and that the reconstruction of a democratic Iraq is moving forward propelled by American dollars.

"In the meantime, the embassy people act as if nothing in Baghdad is wrong (except that they cannot walk in the Green Zone without body armor and they have to take precautions against kidnapping). Recently, a group from State and the military parachuted in from Washington [with fatuous advice] . . . It is a fantasy world."

Well, the Bush Administration was bragging just last year that they were creating their own reality. Here it is.

Bush's Bungling Busts Budget

The patronage cash machine has been fired up in Washington and is already spewing American taxpayer's dollars along the Gulf Coast. It is hardly a surprise that former FEMA head Joe Allbaugh, arrived in Louisiana before then FEMA head Michael Brown. Allbaugh career since he left FEMA is as a rainmaker for companies and individuals seeking large scale government contracts. His most recent relevant experience was helping spend billions of American dollars in Iraq. And, as a side business, both he and his wife are register lobbyist for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton.

In a Newsweek article, Howard Fineman, describes George Bush's desperate attempt to buy back his wasted political influence. Where once a few hundred million dollars would have protected
New Orleans from flood, Bush now proposes to spend a hundred billion or more.

"Even as Bush spoke in New Orleans, questions were multiplying—about who would pay for the costs of recovery, and the implications of those costs for the rest of the Bush agenda; about what the federal government could do to ensure that the flood of cash would be well and wisely spent; about the geographical, cultural and even racial politics of what it would be spent on."

There is no question that federal dollars need to be spent to restore the
Gulf Coast and to rebuild one of North America's great, historical cities. But, as with everything the Bush Administration does, no sacrifice is being asked of the American people, because that would be politically difficult.

The Republican Party of George Bush, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney understand that asking people to sacrifice invites them into the process. And, when people are part of the process they tend to pay more attention to the details, ask hard questions and demand results. By simply passing the entire burden of their budget busting spending on to future generations of Americans, impoverishing our children, the Bush Administration deals the American people out of the process.

"The day after his speech, the president ruled out increasing taxes, saying costs could be handled by cutting unspecified "unnecessary spending." He even renewed his pledge to seek new tax cuts in the name of stimulating the economy. His advisers did the follow-up. "We're fortunate that the economy is very, very strong right now; it will continue to be strong," said Al Hubbard, director of Bush's National Economic Council."

It's so incredibly easy for them. Cut taxes for the rich. Ensure massive profits for a select group of corporations. Engage the nation in a war without end, which also enriches their corporate partners. And, pass all the costs and the entire burden on to the future.

It is easy to see what is going to happen in the present, though. The President has no specific plan, just a laundry list of ideas, many of them half-baked leftovers from right wing think tanks. Somewhere between $200 and 300 billion dollars is going to be dumped into the
Gulf Coast and potentially into places as far away as Alaska by a political process, that will be led by Bush's chief political advisor, Karl Rove. A process interested primarily in rewarding corporate contributors and buying off potential voters.

There is not going to be any meaningful oversight by the government. It is going to be free money and the line of recipients with their hands out is going to swamp any potential system of accountability.

"It's hardly reassuring that the two agencies funneling money into Louisiana are the most heavily criticized government entities on the face of the planet: FEMA and the state's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. Local officials send their requests to the OHSEP, which forwards them to FEMA, which signs off on them and sends them back down the chain. "It looks like, right now, FEMA is playing the primary role," said Pres Kabacoff, a local developer. "But we're still trying to figure out who is FEMA, who is in charge."

An investigative report that kicks off today in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel makes it abundantly clear that FEMA should not be allowed anywhere near taxpayers money in the aftermath of even the most minor emergency.

"The federal government's mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina catastrophe is only the latest bungling in a national disaster response system that for years has been fraught with waste and fraud.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation has found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency in five years poured at least $330 million into communities that were spared the devastating effects of fires, hurricanes, floods and tornadoes."

$330 million passed out without even a basic process to determine the validity of the claim. If there is a silver lining to this dole, it is that much of the money has been handed out to the poorest residents in these areas. But, considering the billions for which FEMA is now responsible, it is hard to imagine that money earmarked for reconstruction is not going to just disappear as has so much FEMA aid in the past.

"The newspaper examined 20 of the 313 disasters declared by FEMA from 1999 through 2004, selecting cities where the agency's inspectors said they had encountered large-scale fraud. Of the $1.2 billion FEMA paid in those disasters, 27 percent went to areas where official reports showed only minor damage or none at all, the Sun-Sentinel found.

"It's so disturbing because we have urgent needs to help individuals who truly are the victims of disasters," said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "I think it erodes public support for disaster assistance when there is a pattern of wasteful and abusive spending."

What is 27% of $200 billion? Of course, much of that $200 billion will be paid out to big international companies like KBR. Companies operating on no-bid, cost+plus contracts with the government. Many of these companies will be the same companies that have done so well financially collecting taxpayer dollars for the reconstruction of

Despite all the bullshit that comes out of President Bush's mouth, the simple facts are these:

1. Hundreds of billions of dollars are going to be spent under the direction of the White House's chief political operative, Karl Rove.

2. The agencies responsible for that money have a history of incompetence in the handling of far smaller sums of money.

3. The corporations brought into the rebuilding effort with be those with the closest political connections to the Republican Party and the Bush Administration.

4. Those corporations will include many of the same companies that have stolen unaccounted billions from the
United States in Iraq.

That is Bush's Four Point Plan for the reconstruction of the
Gulf Coast.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Things Going Well In Iraq, Too?

Remember the war against terror? We were fighting them in Iraq instead of the streets of America. While, President Corruption turns his henchmen loose to rape and pillage the Gulf Coast, look what he has wrought in Iraq.

From Reuters:

"Four days after al-Qaida in Iraq declared all-out war on the Shiite majority, more than 250 people have been killed, 30 of them by a car bomb Saturday outside a produce market in a poor Shiite suburb east of Baghdad. The blast underlined one of the bloodiest weeks since the U.S.-led invasion"

Over at Today In Iraq, where the cost of this bloody mess is tallied every day, there is a link up to an excellent, in depth analysis of the complete botch job done by Donald Rumsfeld and his neocon wanker associates in preparing for military intervention in Iraq.

Entitled "Willful Ignorance: How the Pentagon sent the army to Iraq without a counterinsurgency doctrine," this analysis details a complete lack of intelligent planning combined with a woefully inadequate understanding of the nature of the enemy. No thought was given to any contingency except overwhelming success. Americans have to understand that our national treasure, our international influence and the lives of our military have been sacrificed by men and women who did not have a clue as to what they were doing.

"How is it that the U.S. Army is bereft of a counterinsurgency doctrine and, therefore, struggling to effectively counter Iraqi insurgents? A lot of it has to do with how the Bush administration's military leadership conceives of "modern war."

In Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon, the theory of modern war is enshrined in documents with titles like Joint Vision 2010 and Joint Vision 2020. These focus primarily on command and control systems heavily defined by technology and used to fight the kind of maneuver warfare that twice dispensed with Iraq's vastly inferior conventional army. "In the ideal world of JV 2020, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems like imagery satellites would gather data that troops need to 'see' areas of operations," the veteran army officer and intelligence specialist John Gentry wrote in 2002, illustrating the idealized Rumsfeldian future of battlespace. "Communications networks would instantly transmit information and orders to troops, who would promptly convert them into effective action. Precision munitions would rain on targets. Victory would be assured."

Gentry described this vision as a "fairy tale," and to a large extent events have echoed his view. The success of taking out the Ba'athist army and regime had less to do with technology and more to do with the sorry skill set of Saddam's army."

The Rumsfeld Pentagon, under George Bush's command, is doing virtually everything wrong regarding the Iraqi insurgency. Just as Bush's incompetent cronies at the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA couldn't adapt to the real world demands of a hurricane, Bush's military leadership is incapable of adapting to the circumstances on the ground in Iraq.

"According to a November 2004 Army War College report, in generic terms, the nature of insurgency is mutating, with the more centralized Maoist "people's war" receding into history and being replaced with "twenty-first-century insurgencies" that "become increasingly networked, with no centralized command and no common strategy, only a unifying objective."

Yet what makes the report so striking is its implicit criticism of the current Pentagon leadership. Almost all of its recommendations for defining how the army thinks about the likely staple of current and future warfare--the need for more and better training and education of American troops, more civil affairs and engineering units, better relationships between the army and non-military government agencies, as well as simply an actual acknowledgment of the importance of counterinsurgency doctrine--are far removed from the type of "transformation" pursued by the Rumsfeld Pentagon. Moreover, another of the report's central contentions--that the U.S. military should not exacerbate or legitimize liberation insurgencies by deploying increasing numbers of troops to those conflict zones--stands at odds with a current bipartisan orthodoxy that simply sees increasing enlistments and deployments (without any commensurate doctrinal reform) and new weapons systems as the cure-all. But as Sun-Tzu famously observed, all warfare is based on deception--which, apparently, includes self-deception as well."

Self-deception is even more dangerous when the deceived is incapable of admitting to the deception. Americans and Iraqi continue to die for no reason. Bush's war in Iraq is the most pervasive abuse of Presidential power in American history. It is a war of pride and arrogance.

Failed Leadership - Impeach Bush/Cheney

Kevin Drum over at the Washington Monthly finds a lots of people who are confused as to why it took the Bush Gang so long to get help to the Gulf Coast.

"DITHERING DURING THE FLOOD....One of the mysteries of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is why George Bush and his aides dithered so long about sending active duty military troops to New Orleans... This dithering apparently lasted for at least two days — and possibly three or four — at the height of the crisis."

Kevin quotes extensively from a Knight Ridder article published yesterday.

"Two days after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, President Bush went on national television to announce a massive federal rescue and relief effort.

But orders to move didn't reach key active military units for another three days.

... "If the 1st Cav and 82nd Airborne had gotten there on time, I think we would have saved some lives," said Gen. Julius Becton Jr., who was the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Reagan from 1985 to 1989. "We recognized we had to get people out, and they had helicopters to do that."

The military has consistently and effectively been used in support of civilian authorities in national emergencies and in disaster situations. The simple fact is that the Bush Administration doesn't have any interest in how the government works or what it can do to help people. President Bush is an ignorant, hands-off, "manager" who doesn't know the first thing about his job. He is surrounded by people who tell him what he wants to hear and, apparently just make shit up to keep him from chewing them out.

So....while people are dying and in a situation where Bush's action could make a difference he waits for his incompetent political cronies to decide what to do.

"Addressing the nation on Thursday night in a speech from New Orleans, Bush said the storm overwhelmed the disaster relief system. "It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces, the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice," he said.

Several emergency response experts, however, questioned whether Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff understood how much authority they had to tap all the resources of the federal government - including those of the Department of Defense.

"To say I've suddenly discovered the military needs to be involved is like saying wheels should be round instead of square," said Michael Greenberger, a law professor and the director of the University of Maryland's Center for Health and Homeland Security."

Five years after 911 and everything has changed. We now have a government in place that is incapable of responding to a crisis. Five years after 911, we have government structures in place that are so bound up in bureaucracy and procedural red tape, that they don't even have time to read their own emergency plans. Five years after 911, when a disaster strikes the leaders of our country haven't got a clue as to how they should respond.

"They're trying to say that greater federal authority would have made a difference," said George Haddow, a former FEMA deputy chief of staff and the co-author of a textbook on emergency management. "The reality is that the feds are the ones that screwed up in the first place. It's not about authority. It's about leadership. ... They've got all the authority already."

George Bush is the "screw up in chief". Why does he still have a job?